I was diagnosed with leukemia in July of 2001 at age three.
For the next three years, my early childhood would be spent in the hands of extraordinary doctors and nurses for whom I am forever grateful. Along with spending many days and nights at the hospital with only one of my parents at a time, the rest of my childhood was made normal with the help of family and friends.
As much as the doctors and nurses made my cancer experience easier and better, the one thing that made the experience tough on me and my family was the medicine.
This is not just a unique problem for my family and me, but also for the thousands of other pediatric cancer survivors and their families. At the age of three, I was taking several different pills every day, all of which I chewed because I did not know how to swallow pills. The taste was beyond horrendous, and even the flavor of chocolate could not mask the taste….
I have met countless numbers of brave cancer survivors who can’t have babies when they grow up, or have single or double leg amputations, permanent hair loss at age five, permanent loss of hearing, stunt of growth, and countless other effects that will undoubtedly shape their lives. This is all a result of kids being forced to take adult cancer medicine. Their young bodies are not equipped to handle the high power of the adult medicine.
In a country with so many innovations just in the past five years, I, as well as the rest of the cancer community, find it outrageous and inexcusable that kids are getting the same cancer treatment with the same side effects since the 1980’s. While it may not be the most profitable kind of drug to make and sell, as the survival rate has increased, it is imperative to make medicine tailored for children.
We live in a country that prides itself on promised freedom. However, we have let cancer take away this guaranteed freedom from innocent children.